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EW Europe: SIGINT payload tested on Puma UAS

30th May 2017 - 13:00 by Andrew White in London

EW Europe: SIGINT payload tested on Puma UAS

US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has completed final testing of the latest variant of its Silent Echo signals intelligence (SIGINT) payload, service officials have explained. 

The payload has been designated the Joint Threat Warning System (JTWS) for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) by USSOCOM’s Program Executive Office for Special Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Exploitation (SRSE).

According to service officials, Variant 10.4 of the Silent Echo payload was successfully tested in July 2016 with the latest Variant, Silent Echo 10.6 having completed a final test programme in April 2017.

Silent Echo has been developed by the USSOCOM Special Applications For Contingencies (SAFC) organisation which ‘develops and deploys special capabilities to perform intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance for deployed SOF using non-traditional means’. 

Operating capabilities and parameters of the payload remain classified, according to USSOCOM officials.

However, USSOCOM officials did disclosed how the Silent Echo team has 'developed and matured an advanced payload to support a fixed wing requirement—a capability that will greatly improve the ability to find and fix enemy forces'.

‘The platform has presented unique challenges due to its particular design and size, weight and power constraints. It has strong potential to be integrated into other platforms; several component commands are investigating the opportunity to test this capability,’ it was explained.

 The payload has been integrated on board Aerovironment’s Puma UAS, operated by a Ground Control System (GCS) which can be directly networked to handheld and vehicle-mounted software defined radios (SDRs) providing a geolocation capability ‘intermeshed’ with blue force tracking technology, Falconview and ruggedised laptops via the Tactical Local Area Network (TACLAN).

Speaking generically about Special Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Exploitation, PEO SRSE Program Manager, David Breede, explained how his office should be looking to develop new technologies and developments in order to witness a real-time effect in the next five to ten years.

‘We really should be looking to do something about it now, which is relevant to the fight that’s coming to us and not the one we’re in today,’ Breede explained while highlighting how PEO SRSE continues to improve the size, weight and power of sensors capable of being integrated on board Group 2 and 3 UAVs.

The office is also considering the interoperability of current and future projects with legacy equipment; introduction of modular and multi-use components; and ‘novel combinations’ for existing technology.

‘We want to rapidly respond to dynamic mission requirements and the threat picture with technology insertion of emerging and maturing technology, with modular and scalable cross-domain solutions,’ he concluded while also highlighting desires to improve current Direction-Finding capabilities and capabilities in the maritime environment.

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